Greyhounds score once in each half top St. Paul’s, 2-1

by Joe DiBlasi

Whenever November rolled around before COVID-19 changed our lives, the stands at Gilman School on fall afternoons would be filled to capacity to watch the Greyhound football and soccer teams.

Roars from the crowd could be heard on Roland Avenue and Northern Parkway whenever the Hounds would score.

But on this Saturday afternoon in this pandemic year, only a handful of fans were cheering on the soccer team, in a “open-season” game against visiting St. Pauls.

Instead of playing for three points in the powerful MIAA A conference standings, the host Greyhounds and Crusaders were only playing for pride, which they each displayed in abundance.

Veteran Gilman coach Jon Seal’s squad topped the visiting Crusaders, 2-1, in the first game of the late-starting season for both teams. St. Pauls’ first year coach Paul Fisher, a 2002 grad, was coaching his first-ever game, in his first season, as the head coach of the Crusaders’ varsity soccer team. For Gilman it was also Senior Day.

Despite all of the bizarre happenings in our “new-normal” world in 2020, the game itself was played as if it were at a conference battle.

The Hounds scored first on a follow-up goal from Nate Block, just five minutes into the contest.

“It came off a really good cross by Ryan Martinez that passed the goalie [in front],” said Block. “It bounced off the post, and I put it in.”

The Crusaders tied it up, 1-1, just three minutes later, after a foul in the penalty box. Senior captain Griffin Polinsky converted the penalty kick.

Gilman sophomore Devin Nixon scored what proved to be the winning goal with 17:56 to go in regulation, as the Gilman defenders and senior keeper Grant Farley made the goal stand up.

On his score, Nixon said, “We worked the ball well up the field to the corner and Josh Melancon dribbled up the line and sent the ball in, and I finished it left corner. It was a good team play.”

Seal, now in his 17th year at the helm for the Greyhounds said, “We have a lot to work on, but it’s great to be out here, and it’s great competing. I give St. Paul’s a lot of credit on a beautiful day, with a great atmosphere. The game went well. I feel really blessed under these circumstances.”

Seal also praised Farley, his senior keeper.

” Grant made a save that most people wouldn’t, to keep us in the game. They played well. They had the better of it in the first half, and I thought we had the better of the play in the second half. We will practice hard on Monday and Tuesday before we play them again next Wednesday”.

The Duke bound Farley, a four year starter in the goal for Seal, was happy to be able to compete.

“It’s nice to come out here, because no one expected this to happen,” said Farley. “Our administration got this going, and we made the most of it today with Senior Day and Opening Day at the same time. Our team this year is not as physically big as teams I have played on in the past, but we have a lot of heart, and we have a lot of talent, and good combination play, especially at the midfield with this team.

“St. Paul’s is always tough and regardless of whether it’s a conference game, or not, it’s still a classic game between these two schools.”

Crusader Coach Fisher, who played on some strong teams in Brooklandville as a student, said, “I’m proud of our guys, they fought all the way through. They stepped up and rose to the occasion.

“I thought it was a pretty even game and all of us are happy to play at all, because of COVID. It’s certainly an honor to coach here, and we made it competitive today against a playoff team from last year, and I give a lot of credit to Gilman’s administration for putting this together.”

Fisher said he was happy with the performance of his keeper, senior Max Sutley, who had seven saves.

Fisher lauded Gilman’s Farley. “If he doesn’t make that great save near the end, we might have left here with least a tie.”

Pictured above: Nate Block (left) score the first goal of the year, Grant Farley made seven saves, and Devin Nixon score the game-winner in Gilman’s 2-1 victory over St. Paul’s.

SP 1 0 — 1
GIL 1 1 — 2

GOALS: SP-Polinsky; GIL-Block, Nixon.
ASSIST: GIL-Malencon.
SAVES: SP-Sutley 7; GIL-Farley 7.